By Bob Bong
Roofs collapsed last week at riding stables in Palos Park and Palos Hills from the weight of more than two feet of snow that had fallen since mid-January.
Both Palos Hills Riding Stables and Fitzjoy Farm Riding Academy were closed when the roofs collapsed and no horses nor riders were injured.
Martha Thompson-Hoyt, owner of Palos Hills Riding Academy, on Thursday said, “Half of our indoor arena roof collapsed with the snow that we got. We had more than two feet of snow on the roof.
“We already have had the pole barn builder out to access the damage—we can actually salvage the indoor portion of the arena up to the ceiling. The ceiling and the trusses have to be replaced, and the siding. Perhaps we can muster up a new entrance into the arena. Hopefully, with the estimates and permits, we can be on the fast lane.”
Thompson-Hoyt said a couple of her employees were working hard to remove snow from other buildings as a precaution.
Palos Hills Riding Stables was opened at 10100 S. Kean Ave. in 1960 by her father, Chuck Thompson.
Her chief trouble now is that the repairs will not be covered by insurance.
That’s where Anne-Marie Kennedy comes in.
A frequent rider at the stable and area forest preserve trails and a volunteer with its New Beginnings therapeutic riding program, Kennedy started a Go Fund Me campaign last week to help pay for the repairs.
“Martha is not the type to do it for herself,” Kennedy said. “It’s just not something she would do.”
Within 24 hours, the campaign had raised almost all of its original $25,000 goal. Thanks to its early success, Kennedy has increased the goal to $50,000 and more than $35,000 had been pledged by Tuesday morning. To donate, visit Help Rebuild Palos Hills Riding Stables Arena at gofundme.
“The response has been terrific,” said Kennedy who comes down from Oak Park to ride. “The people have shown wonderful support for a community icon.”
Kennedy was also fortunate the roof collapsed overnight on Feb. 17.
“I was in the last class Tuesday night,” she said.
The stables are closed for the time being.
In Palos Park, Fitzjoy Farm Riding Academy suffered an almost identical roof collapse at almost the same time. A third stable in Morton Grove also suffered a roof collapse the same night.
The roof over a back section of a barn caved in overnight at 12211 S. LaGrange Road.
Owner Pat Doyle did not return a phone call, but Palos Park Village Manager Rick Boehm praised her response to the collapse.
“It was very fortunate no one was injured,” Boehm said.
“I know Pat has structural engineers on the scene assessing the damage,” he said. “Our building inspector was out there this morning and they are doing the best they can given the situation.”
The roof of the barn where horses are kept reportedly fell onto a hayloft above the stabling area, but didn’t collapse onto the animals.
Fitzjoy had been closed because of the weather and remains closed.